Should Students be Aware of Fentanyl Use on Campus?

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Drug use is a part of life anywhere one goes, whether through direct participation or indirect.  

As new drugs get pushed onto the scene, one has definitely drawn the limelight due to its potency and rampant overdoses. Fentanyl. 

So what can UNLV students and faculty do to stay safe? It is easy to say don’t use non-prescribed drugs, but that doesn’t fit the reality of the situation. 

A poll conducted on UNLV Freepress’s Instagram showed that 56% of followers knew someone who participated in drug use that excluded marijuana. 

Fentanyl is a lab designed opioid which is 50-100 times more potent than morphine, according to The Japan Society for Analytical Chemistry. It was originally designed to be used for anesthesia and pain relief, but abuse ran rampant once it was introduced into the market.

Soon after, people started manufacturing it in home labs, making fentanyl an even more volatile, uncontrollable drug. However, what makes fentanyl so appealing is its price point. An almost pure kilogram of fentanyl can go from $2000-$5000, where about 50% pure heroin sells at $25,000, according to sciencedirect.com

The Centers for Disease control reported over 56,000 overdose related deaths due to synthetic opioids in 2020. Preliminary studies suggest that the rise of the pandemic might’ve contributed to more deaths as well. 

Fentanyl’s rise has also begun to touch our local community. In 2020, fentanyl related deaths rose to 219 compared to its previous year in 2019 of just 74 deaths. As more of the festival community and nightlife of Vegas returns post pandemic, it’s expected for these numbers to continue rising. 

The best thing to do if one decides to participate in any type of drug use is to test them before using. Most of the time when people consume fentanyl, they aren’t aware of it. Generally, it is used to “cut” drugs which is what many drug dealers use to expand their product. 

Drugs that are usually cut with fentanyl are heroin, MDMA (molly), and cocaine. One can find different test kits in distribution centers located throughout Nevada, according to the NV Opioid Response organization. Additionally, acquiring from known sources may limit risk. 

There is always a large focus on drug use when it comes to festivals and nightlife. However, there is also another side of the coin worth mentioning, those who utilize drugs for the ability to escape reality or cope with the stresses of life. This doesn’t exclude college. UNLV offers counseling services (CAPS) which are located in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center on campus in room 1500. 

Getting involved in your community can be a relaxing and fulfilling way to manage stress levels. UNLV has over 350 student organizations to choose from, according to UNLV. 

Drug use is an immediate threat to society, and while it does need to be confronted and fought, we must also acknowledge there is a certain coexistence that we will have with it, and that the tools to be aware and safe must be available to everyone.

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